A summary of important health news from the last week.
New restrictions under the Medicare Advantage plans could require patients to try low-priced drugs before high-priced ones. Medicare Advantage plans, which are run under private companies approved by traditional Medicare, cover approximately 20 million people across the country. Critics are concerned that patients will not be treated with their doctors’ drug-of-choice, while proponents argue that this move will pressure drug manufacturers to lower costs. Patients and doctors will be able to request exceptions from this policy.
E-cigarette use is an 'epidemic,' FDA chief says
The FDA has determined the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers to be at epidemic proportions, which has led the federal agency to consider taking e-cigarette products off the market. The FDA has also been taking action to limit the astronomical number of sales of e-cigarettes to minors, occurring via online and retail markets. This is the largest single enforcement action in the history of the federal agency.
A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and the RAND Corporation reported last Monday that from 2006 to 2015, physicians provided no explanation for 29% of the opioid prescriptions they wrote. This research echoes concerns voiced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that inappropriate prescribing patterns among physicians in recent years have worsened the opioid crisis. In 2016 alone, 42,000 people dies from opioid-related deaths.
Home health care: It’s a grim world with victims on both sides
Motivated by personal experience with home health workers, reporter Linda Matchan started looking into home health workers. She found both neglect and abuse at the hands of home health workers, but also stories of people traveling from around the world to improve their lives and the lives of their families. This short documentary tells the stories on both sides.
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